The St. Louis Blues played their seventh d of the division on Saturday night adjoin the Toronto Maple Leafs, and for the additional beeline game, top anticipation Robert Thomas was aching from the lineup. Despite the Blues’ victory, it’s a apropos trend for the 19-year-old, who was consistently ranked amidst the league’s top affairs entering the season.
The again scratches accept led some admirers to catechism whether arch drillmaster Mike Yeo is falling into an old pattern. Yeo has frequently been criticized for mismanaging adolescent talents, and some abhorrence that Thomas will be aloof addition victim of that corruption as continued as Yeo charcoal the drillmaster in St. Louis. But is that a fair appraisal of either Thomas or Yeo? Or is there added to the story?
So far, Thomas has played in bristles of the team’s seven games, averaging beneath nine account (8:51) a game. That cardinal would be alike lower but for the actuality that Thomas was deployed for 11:12 in the aboriginal d of the division adjoin the Winnipeg Jets. Thomas has understandably been relegated to a fourth band role, as the Blues’ active offseason brought in two centers in Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak.
But aboriginal in the season, there were hints that a fourth band role wouldn’t beggarly paltry account for players like Thomas. He and his adolescent band mates Sammy Blais and Ivan Barbashev were accepted to anatomy a “new look” fourth band that would be accustomed 10-plus account a d and would be acclimated in a added cogent and activating role than a archetypal fourth line.
That has not been the case. In his bound minutes, Thomas has aggregate alone one point, an assist, and has acquaint a actual poor CF% of 36.4. Still, it’s difficult to apperceive whether that’s due to a blah alpha from Thomas himself, or the roles and opportunities he’s been deployed in.
Yeo says Thomas is out, Sanford is in tonight. He says Thomas is aggravating to acquisition his aplomb and may be a little afraid about his 9-game trial. #stlblues
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 17, 2018
Whatever the cause, Yeo absitively afterwards bristles amateur that Thomas bare a break, and has aching him for the aboriginal two amateur of the Canada trip. The drillmaster hopes that Thomas’ time in the columnist box will advice him body confidence, article that may be defective with an important borderline looming.
Like abounding 18 and 19-year-old players in the NHL, Thomas finds himself somewhat bedridden by a brace of rules about adolescent players. First, the Canadian Hockey Alliance (CHL, the awning alignment that oversees all three Canadian above inferior hockey leagues) and the NHL accept an acceding which states that any amateur whose rights accord to a CHL aggregation charge comedy for that CHL aggregation unless his NHL aggregation wishes to absorb him. This agency that Thomas is not acceptable to comedy for the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, this season.
But addition aphorism makes things alike trickier for Thomas and the Blues. NHL teams are accustomed some adaptability with “the accelerate rule,” which allows them to “slide” a player’s arrangement aback to his CHL aggregation (or addition associate such as a European aggregation or the AHL club) as continued as the amateur does not beat nine amateur played in the NHL. Sliding the arrangement aback allows the NHL aggregation to not bake a year of the player’s contract, a huge amount in a bacon cap league.
So, accepting played in bristles amateur already, Thomas alone has four added opportunities to accomplish his mark in the NHL afore the aggregation has to adjudge whether he stays or allotment to the Hamilton Bulldogs, his CHL team. Last season, Thomas bedeviled in the CHL, arch his aggregation to the Memorial Cup and acceptable the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the MVP of the OHL playoffs. So argumentation demands that there isn’t abundant to be acquired for Thomas by spending addition year at the inferior level. But if arena time isn’t consistently accessible with the Blues, that accommodation will become added difficult for accepted administrator Doug Armstrong.
Making Thomas’ bearings added adverse for Blues admirers is Yeo’s history with adolescent players. An over assurance on veterans and an disability to breed adolescent aptitude were two of the primary affidavit Yeo was ousted in Minnesota in 2016. Decidedly alarming is the analysis case of Mikael Granlund, a centermost who was already advised the top anticipation in hockey by some, who Yeo deployed on the fourth band with inconsistent arena time and occasionally aching altogether.
Yeo’s analysis of players like Granlund was allotment of the acumen he was ultimately let go, and it seems that he’s yet to apprentice his lesson. Granlund, for his part, has recorded 69 and 67 credibility in the two seasons aback Yeo larboard Minnesota. While it’s still actual aboriginal in Thomas’ career, there are too abounding similarities amid these two belief to avoid them. Of course, Thomas can’t accept an amaranthine leash, but he needs to be accustomed some aplomb that one absent comedy won’t aftereffect in an actual benching.
Yeo has been entrusted with apparently the best anticipation chic the Blues accept had aback the brand of David Backes, T.J. Oshie, and David Perron accustomed about the aforementioned time in St. Louis. The aggregation cannot allow for him to abuse and abusage these players, and the advanced appointment needs to adviser and alike reel in Yeo if he fails on this front.
The Blues accept aloof one win beneath their belt on the season, and they charge to arrange their best calendar every night; however, Robert Thomas additionally needs to get constant arena time. It still doesn’t accomplish abundant faculty to accredit Thomas to the CHL, a alliance he has bedeviled two years in a row, but if he cannot be affirmed starts and arena time in the NHL, that may become his fate.
Yeo on Thomas: “We’re activity to get him aback in the lineup. This is what we chose to go with tonight, but he’s activity to get aback in the lineup.” #stlblues
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 20, 2018
The Blues, and decidedly Armstrong, assume broken amid whether they are added anxious with acceptable anon or with adopting the careers of their best anticipation chic in years. But these charge not be mutually exclusive. Thomas and Jordan Kyrou are the ability of players that should be able to accomplish cogent impacts if they are afforded the befalling to do so. That accommodation rests on Mike Yeo, and the Blues charge him to appearance that he’s abstruse from the mistakes of his accomplished and is accommodating to assurance adolescent players, a authentication of successful, avant-garde NHL teams.
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